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June 27, 2006
Hitman: Blood Money - PS2 Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
1/6/2006AtariIo Interactive1MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
2200KBDolby PLIIYesYesNoneYes

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Sneaking up from behind.
Eidos' Hitman series has been a hit for the company in recent years. After starting out on the PSOne, the previous two titles have been released on the Playstation 2, with Hitman Blood Money the third, and latest, title to hit the platform. This game promises to deliver everything that gamers have been asking for - improved graphics, improved gameplay and improved killing... Although fans will see a few nods to the earlier stories, newcomers need not worry as this fourth title has a quite separate storyline.

In Hitman: Blood Money, Agent 47 finds himself in the midst of a war between two rival contract agencies. When assassins from his contract agency, the ICA, are systematically eliminated in a series of hits, it seems a larger, more powerful agency has entered the fray. Suddenly, Agent 47 loses contact with the ICA. Sensing that he may be the next target, he travels to America where he attempts to carry on with business as usual.

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3 on 1 - not good odds.
As with previous games in the series this is a third person action title where you play the assassin, Agent 47. The missions have set goals and targets, however there are often many ways to complete the missions, be it with different weapons, different approaches to the goal or different approaches to the gameplay. Yes, you can go in all guns blazing, but that rarely pays off as you are soon overwhelmed with enemies, or can go in stealthy to avoid detection.

The range of moves and options to Agent 47 is impressive. He can climb through windows, onto objects, pick locks or climb down drainpipes to name a few. Importantly he can also change into the clothes of many victims making him less obvious to other enemies within the levels. Of course the ways in which you can eliminate enemies is essential. As well as stabbing, using wire to strangle them, or poison them with syringes of liquid Agent 47 has a wide range of guns at his disposal including pistols, machine guns and sniper rifles.

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Crack with the baseball bat.
One of the new inclusions in Hitman: Blood Money is the notoriety system. If you aren't stealthy through the levels by, for instance, being spotted, killing civilians, getting your face on a security camera or so on then your notoriety will go up with a rating out of 100 after each mission. At the end of each mission you can read the details of your exploits in the paper. If you are spotted too often then the news will spread to characters in subsequent missions making remaining hidden even harder with more people recognising you. As you play the game you also earn money which can be spend on upgrading weapons and so on. You can, and will have to, also spend some money to reduce your notoriety before entering the next mission.

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Are those bottles empty?
There's not too many problems with Hitman: Blood Money, indeed it's quite polished in may regards. Sure you could point out the still very hefty 2200kb, or that the games 13 levels can be completed in well under an hour each resulting in a 8-12 hour game or so, but these are minor issues. The enemy AI, while better, still isn't great. Should you get noticed by enemies you will still only alert ones in your local area to your presence, and they won't call in help from their friends in nearby locations - surely in real life if you saw a mate killed you'd be calling for help from all directions. Finally I felt that the notoriety system, while welcome, doesn't quite amount to as much of a gameplay shift as possible and seems a bit of a missed opportunity.

In terms of graphics Io Interactive are pushing the PS2 quite hard with some stunning texturing and lighting effects evident throughout the game. Unfortunately this comes at a bit of a price with the game looking a bit rough is some places, and there is some aliasing and shimmering on occasion. If you do own a decent PC or, dare we say it, XBox 360 then they should be your preferred options due to the much improved graphics. Still, the PS2 game isn't all bad - the frame rate is pretty solid, and the variety of locations impressive and character models, including Agent 47, are quite superb.

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A human shield - always handy.
Hitman: Blood Money's audio is very impressive. Be it the music composed by Jesper Kyd and brought to life with the 150-piece Budapest Symphony Orchestra and Choir, or the superb speech or effects everything in this game is nothing short of cinema quality in production.

This fourth game in Io Interactive's series is probably it's most accomplished to date, although with the passing of time the games impact isn't quite as big as it was for the second title release in 2002 and the graphics are no longer as groundbreaking. Still, if you're a fan of the series - or just looking for an action game that takes a bit of thought - then there is no reason to avoid this title.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSThe new graphics engine certainly made some improvements.
SOUNDSuperb sound, voicework and music make this a treat sonically.
GAMEPLAYSome gameplay improvements, but not quite enough. Still, it's fun.
VALUELengthy enough due to the difficulty level, and only $AU79.95 too!
OVERALLHitman: Blood Money is yet another great title in the series. It's still not the perfect game - for one reason or another we don't 'enjoy' it as you should a game, but it is engrossing.

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